Marijuana research shows no signs of slowing down. Its latest find? A study presented at the 3rd Congress of the European Academy of Neurology has confirmed that the active compounds in cannabis can reduce the frequency of acute migraine pain. These compounds actually work better than prescription migraine medication and have fewer side effects.
The study involved 127 participants with chronic migraines or cluster headaches. Cluster headaches are characterized by severe headaches that occur on one side of the head, particularly around the eye (1). On the other hand, migraine pain often entails light sensitivity and nausea and affects both sides of your head (2).
Cannabis for Migraines
The oral medication used in the study contained two cannabis-derived cannabinoids: 19% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and 9% cannabidiol (CBD). THC, or course, is psychoactive and creates the famous “high” recreational users crave. It’s also incredibly healing. CBD, on the other hand, isn’t psychoactive and is the best known for treating cancer and managing seizures in epileptic children and adults (3).
The two-phase study began by giving 48 participants suffering from chronic, acute migraines a variety of doses of THC-CBD drug. The group that received a daily dose of 200mg of the drug for three months experienced a 55% decrease in pain. Lower doses also reduced pain, but not to the same extent (4).
The second phase included 79 participants suffering from cluster headaches and well as chronic migraines.Participants suffering from migraines were split into to groups and given either 200mg of the THC-CBD drug or 25 milligrams of amitriptyline. Amitriptyline is a common antidepressant medication also used to treat migraines (5).
On the other hand, headache-afflicted participants were given either the THC-CBD drug or 80 milligrams of verapamil. Verapamil is a calcium channel blocker prescription pharmaceutical given to patients with cluster headaches (6).
In both groups, the THC-CBD medication came on top. For migraines, THC-CBD was slightly better at lowering the frequency of attacks and m reduced migraine pain by 43.5%. For cluster headaches, the THC-CBD medication was also helpful at reducing pain. However, it worked best for participants who had a childhood history of migraines.
What’s more, participants reported fewer side effects with THC-CBD than traditional treatment. Participants reported fewer stomach aches, muscle pains, and incidences of colitis than their prescription-taking counterparts. The THC-CBD groups did, however, report some drowsiness and difficulty concentrating.
The study confirms research published in 2016 in the Journal of Pharmacotherapy that found that medical marijuana reduced the frequency of migraines (7). Other studies have also suggested that cannabis is much safer to use than prescription pain medications, which has a high addiction rate. Further research is currently underway to determine whether or not cannabinoids may replace over-the-counter opioids for pain relief.
It may be a long time before we see widespread marijuana legalization and cannabis-based medicines, but the research is certainly a step in the right direction.
Of course, as with all pharmaceuticals, cannabis-based drugs isolate active compounds, but set aside all the other beneficial cannabinoids and nutrients that work with CBD and THC to heal and benefit the body. The results can be devastating. As such, it’s better to get your medicine straight from the plant and make your own cannabis juice and oil.